A Times Editorial
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 17, 2000
What should the voters of District 60 (includes Temple Terrace, USF and Lutz) consider when choosing their next state representative? Both candidates, Democrat Sara Romeo and Republican Ed Homan, are seeking elected office for the first time. Both are thoughtful, active in the community and current on the issues.
The most meaningful difference between the candidates is this: Romeo sees a need for change in Tallahassee on some important issues; Homan supports the status quo, seeing little wrong with the current Legislature and its record. Given the challenges ahead in education, health care and growth management, Romeo is more likely to serve the whole community's needs.
Romeo, 51, is a partner in a family furniture store and executive director of Artists Unlimited, a non-profit art and education organization. She has served on a variety of local boards.
Romeo recognizes that because of the turnover caused by term limits, the coming legislative session presents an opportunity. "This is a house-cleaning year -- let's put some people up there that want to get something done," she said.
What would she get done? She thinks the A-Plus Plan, the system of grading schools A through F, focuses on the wrong problems. She would like the Legislature to address teacher pay and crowded classrooms and to make the school grading system fair. "I think there needs to be accountability, but we need to continue to change the grading system until we get it right," she said.
Homan, 57, an orthopedic surgeon, sees little wrong with the A-Plus Plan or vouchers, although he would also try to spend more on school needs.
Romeo thinks the state could, and should, do more to provide adequate medical care for uninsured children and to help struggling retirees with the financial demands of long-term care and prescription drugs.
Homan has an interest in health care, as well, but mainly to provide a doctor's point-of-view in the health insurance reform debate. In fact, he decided to run for the seat when the medical association asked him to help find a doctor to run for the House. There is nothing wrong with that, but Homan's interests are more narrow than Romeo's.
And that gets at the major difference between the two candidates. Romeo understands the varied needs of the district's constituents, even those who don't form PACs or lobby for their causes. Homan takes a much more passive approach to representing those who have no voice in the current system. "I can be their representative and I can fight their fight, but they have to ask me to do it," he said.
A state representative should work to understand all of the problems in the district and fight to resolve them. A representative should make every effort to embrace the underclass as well as those who know how to work the political system. Romeo offers the most promise to be that kind of representative.
The Times recommends Sara Romeo.
The Times offers candidates not recommended by its editorial board an opportunity to reply. Candidates in the races discussed today should send in their replies no later than 5 p.m. Thursday to: Philip Gailey, editor of editorials, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. (E-mail: email@example.com; Fax: 893-8675). Replies are limited to 250 words.